Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Noemi Engel Ebenstein - July 22, 1996


Let me just for a moment go back to something you said a little earlier. You mentioned that just the sight of trains has a very powerful effect on you.

Upsetting, yes, hmm, hm.

And barbed wire.


So you have a memory then?

I guess so.

Is there anything else that does that?

The barbed wire story is the, the strangest part of it all. I, I used to say, "But we did not have barbed wire." I mean, we were not like in Auschwitz and most of the films which show Auschwitz with the barbed wire. And, and so why am I reacting to this? And this, in 1984 when I interviewed my mother, she said to me there was a barbed wire around the camp. I had no recollection of it. All I knew was that I would have this arguments with myself, like why are you reacting--saying to myself--why are you reacting to these pictures? After all, you were not in an extermination camp and, and I knew from my mother's stories that the camp was fairly open. We would walk, or my mother would walk to her, to, to her work, you know, certain kilometers they walked to, to, to the place of, of work. So what, what's the big deal? But apparently there was a barbed wire. And even after I interviewed her I forgot, I repressed it again. It's, it's like the repression is incredible how we just don't want to deal with some painful things and we just kind of put it out of our minds. And, and the barbed wire apparently was one of them that I put out of my mind.

Are there other images that, have you... Did you watch the Holocaust series in 1978?

Yes I have, I did, I did. And I had a tremendous reaction to it. I, I said to my husband, my children were still young. Um, my oldest at the time, it was 1977?

Nineteen seventy-eight, I think.

Nineteen seventy-eight. So my oldest was, Ruthie was 10. And I just had a baby, I think, or I was pregnant with my last child. And, um, I've looked, I still remember the first segment of it with Kristallnacht. And I looked around and I said to my husband, "Well, it can happen here too." And I had such a strong feeling that it really indeed could happen in Southfield, Michigan. It's like nobody can change my mind, and you know what? I still believe it. I'm totally convinced that it can happen anywhere. So...

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